Pixel 6a Review (20)

A Pixel 6a screen was coaxed into running at 90Hz

Good news: At least some Pixel 6a phones have a display that supports a 90Hz refresh rate, addressing one of the more pointless complaints against the $450 mid-range phone. Bad news: Getting the phone flipped over to a high refresh rate mode right now requires using an undocumented hack, there are currently a few issues with it when it does work, and the solution seemingly doesn’t function on all Pixel 6a hardware. In short, while at least one Pixel 6a was forced into working at 90Hz, it’s not clear if you’ll be able to do it on your own unit.


We know that the Pixel 6 and 6a share a similar display, but the former phone supports a 90Hz refresh rate for smoother operations, while the Pixel 6a is limited to an older but more standard 60Hz refresh rate. We didn’t consider it a point against the phone in our Pixel 6a review, but some did. According to a recent software mod, the Pixel 6a might be coaxed into working at a higher refresh rate, though the evidence that all phones can actually do it right now is lacking.

Earlier today, @TheLunarixus discovered that the display panel on their Pixel 6a actually supports a higher refresh rate of up to 90Hz or even 120Hz. This is all still in flux and under active development, but according to Esper.io’s Mishaal Rahman, a modified display driver inserted in the vendor_boot partition can be flashed to forcibly enable the feature through a user-facing toggle for a 90Hz option, and on @TheLunarixus’s unit, this was able to kick the phone into a 90Hz display mode. Video on Twitter, of course, can’t really demonstrate a high refresh rate, but Android’s optional overlay indicating the current refresh rate and the well-known UFO framerate test would both indicate that it worked.

However, Rahman wasn’t able to get this working on his own unit — the screen “would blank” and nothing was shown. According to Rahman, the exploit is likely not a fake even though it didn’t work for him — @TheLunarixus is well-known for his prior work hacking display drivers for the Pixel 6 Pro and enabling Android 13’s screen resolution settings on the phone. Explanations like hardware binning may be responsible, or there could be other differences between units (ideally, one that can be factored in for a solution that works across more devices).

There are other issues that the current hack imposes, like poor display calibration and tearing due to Vsync problems, though those are details that might be fixed in time. The current solution also requires manually flashing an image to one of the system partitions, which means unlocking your bootloader, breaking SafetyNet, etc., so it could be too big of a pain for most of our readers to attempt. The required images also haven’t been publicly posted yet, though I assume documentation will be coming once (if?) more of the various kinks are ironed out.

The story here is actively developing as developers dig into the facts, but right now, most Pixel 6a owners shouldn’t get too excited to hack their display to run at 90Hz. I’s not clear if it will be an option all hardware supports.

#Pixel #screen #coaxed #running #90Hz

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